NTU setting up Institute of Structural Biology with state-of-the-art imaging facilities

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Pic courtesy: NTU The institute will be led by Dr. Daniela Rhodes, a structural biologist of international repute.
Pic courtesy: NTU; The institute will be led by Dr. Daniela Rhodes, a structural biologist of international repute.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is setting up a new $30 million NTU Institute of Structural Biology (NISB). It is a multidisciplinary environment to encourage collaboration across physical, chemical, and biological sciences. It is the first-of-its kind in Singapore completely dedicated to structural biology research.

NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson said, “Structural biology is a key area of study in molecular biology and more importantly, medicine. The strength and beauty of structural biology is that it allows the chemistry of life to be understood in great detail. Using cutting-edge imaging equipment, protein molecules such as enzymes are magnified up to 10 million times and beautifully rendered in 3D. These 3D images of proteins at the atomic level hold the key in resolving some of the world’s pressing health problems such as aging and cancer. Understanding how molecules work and how their functions can be modified can help spur ground-breaking drug and vaccine discoveries.”

The institute will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2016. NISB will have state-of-ofthe-art imaging instruments, all under one roof. The Cryo-Electron Microscopy Laboratory is the main attraction as it is the world’s first University research facility to be equipped with an advanced ‘cryo transmission electron microscope’. This allowed high-resolution 3D imaging half a million times smaller than a grain of rice! This will help provide crucial information in drug design and discovery and eventually help tackle health issues throughout the world. The institute will be led by Professor Daniela Rhodes, an international expert in structural biology who had worked with several Nobel Prize winners during her 42 years at Cambridge University’s world-renowned MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. NISB is modelled after the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology which is one of the birthplaces of modern molecular biology and has produced 15 Nobel Laureates.

The new institute will have over 70 top biomedical scientists and researchers in Singapore. NISB will be housed at LKC Medicine’s new seven-storey Experimental Medicine Building located at the NTU main campus, which will be ready in July this year. The new institute will be part of NTU’s Life Sciences cluster, comprising the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE).

NTU Institute of Structural Biology (NISB) will be located at NTU's main campus
NTU Institute of Structural Biology (NISB) will be located at NTU’s main campus

This article is based on the NTU press release.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.